On Wednesday evening, NASCAR announced that Kevin Harvick was penalized with an L1 penalty for his No. 4 Ford failing post race inspection back at the R&D Center in North Carolina. Originally, the car passed tech after the Pennzoil 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the track, but when inspected further back in Charlotte, they found the Stewart-Haas Racing team violated Sections 220.127.116.11 (dealing with rear window support) and 20.4.18 (rocker panel extensions), specifically. A brace that supports the rear window failed and did not meet specifications for keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions, at all times. Additionally, the rocker panel extension was not aluminum.
The No. 4 team with driver Kevin Harvick won the race, but will not get the benefits of that win for the NASCAR Playoffs (a total of seven playoff points for winning the race and both stages). Harvick also won at Atlanta, which means he still is qualified for the postseason on the basis of that Atlanta win.
Additionally, crew chief Rodney Childers has been fined $50,000. Car chief Robert Smith has been suspended for the next two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. The team also was docked 20 driver points and 20 owner points.
With this specific infraction, NASCAR officials felt the best sanction for the violation was suspending the car chief, not crew chief, due to the prominent role the car chief plays in setting up the car throughout the weekend.
That is what NASCAR found, here’s my take.
I don’t like it. I like that NASCAR has penalized them but I don’t like that we’re three races into another season and here we are with another win basically taken away. This is the same as an encumbered win. The only difference is NASCAR doesn’t use that term anymore.
It’s the same old story from the team too. This was a parts failure and didn’t remotely aid in any way shape or form to his finish. Sure it didn’t. Keep telling yourselves that. I bet Joey Logano’s, Bubba Wallace’s and Denny Hamlin’s infractions last year didn’t aid in their victories either. Oh wait, they said that fact. But it was later proven that their cheating in those races did. It’s nauseating to hear the same statement from the teams time after time after getting caught.
Just admit that you worked outside of the box and cheated and move on. Because that’s what you did. If you didn’t, then your car would have passed inspection like the others.
The kicker is that the car passed pre race inspection. It failed back in North Carolina when they tore into the car and dissected further. Same for the other four wins taken away last year.
While I get that people will say well Harvick dominated in Atlanta and that car passed inspection, maybe his car would have been just as good in Vegas with or without the rear window doing what it did. My response? How would we know. They manipulated the metal for that brace in the window. Why do that if there wasn’t intent? Why not just use the same metal like everyone else did?
They knew what they were doing and it backfired. The metal wouldn’t detect in the scanning device but when it got back and was inspected further, NASCAR noticed it and it’s no wonder it failed.
Good for NASCAR to take the win away. The only drawback is that it really doesn’t do anything to Harvick’s playoff chances. The only thing that could come away from this is losing those seven playoff points. If he doesn’t win any races in one of the rounds and is eliminated by seven points or fewer, point back to this.